News/Blog

End of harvest

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End of harvest.


Melancholy settles over me every year at this time.

Like a mountaineer I have to remind myself that reaching the summit is only half of the journey (Getting back home is the ultimate goal!). "Home" for me is sharing. While quiet returns to the caves, it's time to pull corks and pour - for friends, family, and fans.

Please grab a bottle and share our newest release: 2015 Tofanelli Estate Zinfandel

As in all things, Balance!
Vincent Tofanelli, grape grower, winemaker

Harvest - Winemaking Comes Naturally

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Often we forget that wine is a microbiological product. They contain all sorts of natural microorganisms that are essential to the winemaking process – like yeast. Yeasts are tiny. We can’t see them, but they do the heavy lifting to transform sweet-tasting grape juice into something much more complex – a liquid that has the potential to be profound (maybe even life-changing)!

My winemaking philosophy leads me to use the naturally occurring yeast that lives in the vineyard (hello, terroir!) and a small amount of cultured yeast (predictable aromas, clean ferments). This combination gives my wines a layered complexity that speaks “Old World influence with Napa Valley intensity..."


Harvest - It's Time

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It's time! The grape flavors are lip-smackingly beautiful and the lab numbers are perfect. My dedicated crew harvests in the early light when the fruit is cold and I can get a jump on the long process of trucking, de-stemming, and moving the grape must into the caves where the ‘alchemy’ begins – fermentation! The aromas in a wine cave during harvest can be sublime, a mixture of fruit jellies, yeast, oak wood, and earth. Subtle, but once experienced, never forgotten...

Harvest - How do I know when it's time?

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A question that is often asked, “How do you determine when to harvest?”

 In other words, “when are the grapes ripe?” Easily asked, but hard to answer! I base my decisions on the style of wine I like; full fresh flavor extraction without cooked, raisiny overtones. It’s based on a more European vision of wines that age well and pair well with food.

 First and foremost is how the individual berries taste. I base this on my forty years of experience making wine from the same vineyard. To back that up comes my refractometer. A cool tool to measure sugar levels. I like to calculate which rows I am sampling beforehand to help get the most accurate sample set. Then I’ll walk the rows gathering berries (and eating them, delicious!) from the shady interior and the sunny exterior. That allows my sample set to have the best lookalike representation of all of my fruit in the vineyard. With the berries gathered, I juice them by hand (fun smooshy work), and some of it goes in the refractometer and some goes to the lab for pH/acidity readings.

Signing off (for awhile)

Harvest started for us August 7th. It's been a good long 'haul'. The vines are ready for winter, and our aged wines are ready for your enjoyment. Time for reflection and thankfulness...

Meanwhile, Back At The Ranch...


The drought continues. In spite of that, our dry farmed vineyard came through, producing a generous and flavorful crop. So now is the time to give it back, and replenish the soil with nutrients. On the tractor, I’m dispensing cover crop seed (a blend of nitrogen fixing legumes and oats) and organic fertilizer (7.5-5-7.5). Thank you, Grapevines, I wish you a long rest with plenty of water from the skies!

Wrapping It Up At The Winery

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The last wines are pressed to barrel.
The 2014 harvest is now one for the books! Awesome in quality, the work now begins to babysit the young wines through secondary fermentations and sluggish primaries. The wineries’ hectic pace is behind us; we work to schedule more time for rest (sleep!) and pull our personal lives back in order...